The BIM Innovation Capability Programme (BICP) 2016-2017 managed by CitA was funded by Enterprise Ireland to help assist the National BIM Council (NBC) of Ireland in determining the likely strategic direction in the digital transformation of the Irish construction industry.
The construction industry is one of the last industries to experience this digital transformation. However, in more recent years with the increased use of Building Information Modelling (BIM), Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Drones and 3D printing the industry is starting to see fundamental changes in how designing, building and managing built assets might be more efficiently achieved in the future.
The outputs of the Programme are such that the awarding authority, Enterprise Ireland, have asked that the delivery team extend their work into 2018-2019, in alignment with the NBC roadmap, which is due to be published in December 2017.
Outline of BICP
The BICP team of Dr. Alan Hore (DIT), Dr. Barry McAuley (DIT) and Professor Roger West (TCD) set about delivering on four key objectives.
1. Collate relevant BIM data, founded on an explicit research programme that has fed into the overall National BIM Roadmap for the Irish AEC sector.
2. Carry out a structured programme of consultation with industry and 3rd Level higher education institutions (HEIs) in regard to their use and current capability in BIM.
3. Identify exemplar BIM case studies in Ireland.
4. Carry out an in-depth analysis of the data and implement a strategy for the dissemination of findings through a formally structured events programme. This phase included delivering a working paper to Enterprise Ireland and the NBC on the optimum strategy for the implementation of BIM in Ireland.
Global Knowledge-Sharing Opportunity
The BICP carried out a systematic review of BIM adoption in international regions with particular focus on enablers to support implementation. A total of 27 countries were reviewed, which provided a unique opportunity to investigate the key champions and noteworthy publications that were evident in these regions.
The BICP Global BIM study (www.bicp.ie/bicp-global-bim-study) has been downloaded in excess of 5,000 times and has resulted in a pipeline of connections to international contacts and organisations that play a particular role in implementing BIM globally.
In the past week a number of these international contacts were speaking at the CitA BIM Gathering International conference, including David Philp (Digital Built Britain), Anne Kemp (UK BIM Alliance), Ilka May (EU BIM Task Group) and Paul Dodd (Scottish Futures Trust).
The BICP suggested a partnership approach between industry and government in order to best promote and improve the capability of both Irish industry and academia to embrace BIM. Aligned with this partnership approach, the BICP team recommended that a number of recurring themes evident internationally should also be present in Ireland’s strategic roadmap i.e. adoption of standards, changes to contracts and procurement, use of pathfinder projects, development of national guidelines and education.
BIM in Ireland 2017
The BICP team also prepared a comprehensive BIM in Ireland report (http://www.bicp.ie/irish-bim-study/) documenting Ireland’s journey thus far with BIM. The report outlined the improved economic context that the Irish construction industry is currently experiencing, particular in major urban areas. In addition the leadership shown by Enterprise Ireland and the Construction IT Alliance also featured prominently. The knowledge-sharing referred to earlier in the Global BIM study was evident in how Ireland has been influenced by the UK BIM Mandate and the Scottish Futures Trust BIM Implementation programme and smart tools. The importance of the EU BIM Task Group also featured.
Whilst the report documented a very active BIM community in Ireland, there still remained a “disconnect” between particular community associations and a lack of “consistency” in how BIM was been strategically adopted by both industry and by HEIs in the design of their curriculum.
The collation of Irish BIM case studies proved to be very informative with a significant number of projects featured in the report.
The publication of the annual Digital Transition Survey (2015-2017), in association with Enterprise Ireland, provided year on year evidence of the continued increase in confidence in the use of BIM among the top 100 companies in the Irish AEC sector.
One of the key outputs of the Irish BIM Study included the collaboration with Dr. Bila Succar (Change Agent Australia) and Dr. Mohammad Hassem (University of Northumbria, UK). The BICP adopted Succar’s and Kassems five conceptual models that have been utilised to measure macro BIM adoption across the world. One of the models examines the levels of “adoption and diffusion” of BIM in Ireland among principal stakeholder groups. The results of this diffusion is shown in Figure 3.
It can be seen clearly that there was a general weakness in the area of diffusion by policy makers in Ireland, with the absence of a formal governmental position on BIM adoption.
Broad and Deep Consultation
Throughout the programme the BICP team consulted very broadly with stakeholder communities across Ireland.
This took the form of a number of online surveys, structured workshops (www.bicp.ie/industry-consultation-workshops) both centrally in Dublin and regionally to elicit both industry and HEIs feedback on the experience of working with BIM within the Irish AEC sector (Figure 4).
The BICP also utilised online surveys to collate additional information to help shape the direction of Ireland’s digital transformation of the AEC sector. A HEI study undertook a systematic review of all third level BIM programmes and BIM training currently on offer in Ireland. All BIM education offered by the HEIs have been mapped out and can be viewed at (www.bicp.ie/higher-education-bim-programmes).
The BICP team also consulted with a large selection of public sector authorities that are active in the delivery of AEC projects and have found that, despite the absence of a public sector mandate, they are increasingly specifying BIM on their projects (www.bicp.ie/public-sector-consultation).
The BICP team also engaged with the BIM Manager community in Ireland. This engagement offered particular feedback on how BIM practitioners were managing this digital transition (www.bicp.ie/bim-mangers-ireland).
The BICP Client BIM Group chaired by Dr. Claire Penny of IBM is by far the most active working group, providing a regular platform of debate for some of the largest clients in both the public and private sector in Ireland. Clients active in the group include Intel, IBM, ESB International, OPW, iPUT, Grangegorman Development Agency and Transport Infrastructure Ireland.
The BICP team worked closely with CitA in the design of the popular CitA Smarter Building Series in 2016 and 2017, where audiences heard from an array of Irish clients and AEC project teams showcasing their experience in working with BIM tools and processes in Ireland. The BICP team provided an update on each of the bi-monthly events. The BICP team were also proactive in presenting in regional HEIs and at regional BIM region meetings.
The BICP also created a dedicated website (www.bicp.ie) which contained all of the key publications (Global BIM Study and BIM in Ireland 2017 reports) including the case studies referred to earlier. The CitA team maximised the exposure of the BICP findings by leveraging social media channels and by distributing BICP newsletters.
The BICP team were fortunate to be in a position to attend a number of international conferences and digital construction events in 2016 and 2017, such as Digital Construction Week (London 2016 and 2017), CIBW78 (Crete, 2017), buildingSMART Summit (London, 2017), Digital Construction (Brussels, 2017), and BIM Show Live (London, 2016) where opportunities were provided on a number of occasions to share the work of the BICP with an international audience.
The recent CitA BIM Gathering international conference held on the 23rd and 24th November provided a platform for the BICP to showcase their findings to a local and international audience. The Gathering heard of a formal announcement of the Irish Government’s Public BIM Strategy and the NBC Digital Construction Roadmap 2018-2021.
In-Depth Analysis Underway
The BICP team are currently working on a thorough thematic analysis of the overall findings from the desktop and field study undertaken, which they hope to publish in early 2018.
In Q4 of 2017 the BICP Team conducted an extensive survey titled “Future Directions of Ireland’s BICP” to further understand if the project has influenced the increased use of BIM by practitioners, educators and clients in Ireland. The vast majority of the respondents reported that the BICP has helped influence the increased use of BIM by practitioners, educators and clients in Ireland.
The key findings from this survey conclude that priority should be given to create BIM guidelines for clients who are commissioning projects in Ireland. In addition, a BIM support and advisory service for Irish SME AEC organisations was widely supported by respondents to the survey. It was also evident that they were keen to see additional Irish BIM case studies and a freely accessible online portal containing templates, sample models, webinars and practice guides.
The BICP team are currently working on an extension proposal for 2018 and 2019. It is likely that the project will be designed to principally support and align with the NBC roadmap published in early December 2017. Every consideration will be given to incorporate feedback from the consultation process. The project will include an initial phase of “Establishing the Need” which will seek to reaffirm the particular focus of the project following the recent developments.
The BICP over the last two years has provided crucial information in highlighting areas that will need to be addressed if Ireland is to continue its momentum in promoting BIM within the industry. The BICP has provided an effective resource in collating data for the NBC in the production of their Digital Transition Roadmap for the industry. There is surely a strong case for the BICP to continue this support work over the next phase of the digital transformation of the construction industry.